Quick Takes

Anti-abortion amendment to Kentucky Constitution given little chance this session

By: and - February 15, 2023 9:41 am

Reproductive rights supporters celebrate the defeat of Amendment 2 on election night 2022 in Louisville. (Photo for Kentucky Lantern by Arden Barnes)

Roughly three months after voters rejected Amendment 2, which would have specified there is no right to an abortion in Kentucky’s Constitution, a similar amendment was proposed Tuesday by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Whitney Westerfield. 

But the amendment isn’t likely to move this session. 

Senate Majority Floor Leader Daymon Thayer said Tuesday that “right now the plan is not to pass any constitutional amendments this year.” 

“There are a number of good ones,” said Thayer, “worth considering next year. I think it’s wise for the sponsors to get them out early and start talking about them.” 

Constitutional amendments appear on Kentucky ballots only in even numbered years.

Westerfield, R-Fruit Hill, is the lone sponsor of Senate Bill 118, which proposes a new section of the Constitution, to read as follows:

“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including but not limited to circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.” 

Still waiting on Supreme Court decision 

Abortion in Kentucky remains outlawed in almost all cases while the state Supreme Court considers whether to block enforcement of state laws banning the procedure.

The high court, which heard arguments in the case on Nov. 15, must decide whether to uphold an injunction that had briefly reinstated access to abortion in Kentucky. Since then, though, new members have joined the court. That means the group who decides the case will be different than the one that heard it. 

 If the justices grant the injunction sought by the Kentucky branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, the decision would allow EMW Women’s Surgical Center and Planned Parenthood in Louisville to resume abortion services at 15 weeks of pregnancy as the case is litigated.

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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky. She has covered everything from crime to higher education. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. At the Kentucky Lantern, she covers mental health, abortion, COVID-19 and more.

Liam Niemeyer
Liam Niemeyer

Liam covers government and policy in Kentucky and its impacts throughout the Commonwealth for the Kentucky Lantern. He most recently spent four years reporting award-winning stories for WKMS Public Radio in Murray.